The regulation and restriction of payments to medical professionals from the pharmaceutical industry are back on the public policy menu, according to MM&M magazine. "So far, lobbyists have been fighting, where possible, to keep payments for continuing medical education (CME) and marketing research off the table. But restrictions could curtail compensation for things like speaker training, and that most ubiquitous of pharma marketing tactics, the dinner meeting."

New restrictions appear to be motivated by the opioid crisis, or high drug prices, "or both," and according to the National Academy for State Health Policy, more than 30 states have introduced laws this year that address drug prices.

"[Howard] Fienberg, who spoke at the NJ hearing in his role as director of government affairs for the Insights Association (created by the 2017 merger of the smaller marketing research trade groups CASRO and MRA), said several people testifying at the NJ hearing made the point that, rather than helping combat the opioid epidemic, limits on payments to prescribers could actually aggravate it by lessening the ability to educate them about the drugs and about addiction treatment."

MM&M also discussed California S.B. 790, legislation which the Insights Association mobilized this past summer to help amend to protect bona fide marketing research with health care providers, which would otherwise have banned all incentive payments for pharmaceutical marketing research payments. “Having gotten an exemption in California, we can hopefully do well in NJ,” Fienberg said.

MM&M concluded that this summer's ban on pharma payments in Maine may not be such a big deal, since it "isn't such a big market, and the ban on CME and market research isn't expected to cause as much economic damage as it would in a larger state." However, "given the recent wave of legislation and the fact that the contentious issues motivating it aren't going anywhere soon, lobbyists and industry advocates don't see the pressure letting up in 2018."